Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

The Real War on Christmas is Our Corporate-Driven Material Culture

00 Art Young. Jesus wanted poster. He stirreth up the people. 1913

The First Century analogues of Fox News, the megachurchers, and Corporate America DEMANDED the death of Our Lord Christ on the cross… fancy that… it seems like the “religious” haven’t changed their spots over the centuries!

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War is hell. Let’s face it, the battle for peace on earth and goodwill towards men isn’t for the faint of heart… or, apparently, for the faint of light. That’s the premise of ABC’s new, three-part special, The Great Christmas Light Fight. After all, how better to commemorate the birth of the Prince of Peace than with a fight? Moreover, with Christmas lights, no less! Forget goodwill towards men. Forget Charlie Brown’s dated, quaint paean to the spirit of Christmas using the allegory of a lonely, sparsely-decorated tree. Instead, the commando wing of Disney’s media army produced a climate-warming, suburban energy vampire version of duelling banjos. No, there’s no room at the inn for something as outdated as “goodwill” when families go head-to-head, matching wits and carbon-footprints in a contrived “reality” showdown. Furthermore, the winner gets money. Each episode ends with 50,000 USD (2.73 million Roubles. 310,000 Renminbi. 3.17 million INR. 58,000 CAD. 61,600 AUD. 41,000 Euros. 32,000 Pounds) awarded to the victorious family. C’mon… wielding your “Christmas spirit” to beat the other guy for a hefty chunk of change? What’s more “Christmas” than that? Onward, Christmas soldiers!

The only thing that matches ABC’s too-close-to-the-bone expression of a corporately-sponsored Christmas is America’s annual Black Friday demolition derby and the desperate consumerism that fuels it. Viral videos of the violent scrum have become a tradition, too. With each passing year, the kick-off to the profitable holiday season looks more and more like a kick-off to a football game, as retailers keep their stores open and their minds closed to anything other than squeezing a little more profit out of embattled consumers. Yes, Virginia, there’s a war on Christmas. However, it isn’t the misdirected and misanthropic battle ginned-up by self-interested media blatherati and crypto-crusaders. The implication of their version of the war on Christmas… sold by politically-minded religious “conservatives”, talk radio rabble-rousers, Bill O’Reilly and, it seems, the entirety of Fox News… is that they’re making a last stand at the Alamo of American Christianity against humanists, atheists, and a host of mealy-mouthed “liberals” bent on destroying the very foundation of the Republic itself.

There is a war, but these Christmas soldiers mass on the wrong front. Offended non-believers or the incessant meddling of politically-correct busybodies don’t wage the real attack… corporate profiteers wage the real war on the spirit and meaning of Christmas through a grinding campaign of multimedia marketing. Corporate Christmas isn’t a time of humble reflection, effusive charity, and financial modesty. It’s a market opportunity… and they do exploit it. It’s the last chance to change the year’s bottom line from red to black… thus, the term “Black Friday”. Corporate Christmas is a market-tested, pre-packaged, shrink-wrapped box full of emptiness; religious tradition is a mere by-product. The oddity is that this money-changing, profit-making, and strangely competitive version seems diametrically opposed to the “reason for the season”. Of course, that reason is the birth of one of history’s great champions of the poor, of the weak, and of turning your cheek away from a fight. Sorry, ABC. Could Jesus be any less of a fit with Corporate Christmas? According to the world-famous birthday boy, a camel has a better chance of passing through the eye of a needle than one of these rich corporate retailers has of joining him in heaven. Maybe, that’s why they spend so much effort and marketing money on wringing out the religious teachings and replacing it with consumer culture. The returns on that effort are mixed.

According to a new study from Pew Research, Americans’ least favourite part of Christmas is commercialism and materialism. A third of those polled don’t like the corporate version of Christmas. The emphasis on money also bothered 22 percent of those surveyed. One of the big numbers from the survey is 51 percent. Of the 91 percent of those who said they plan to celebrate Christmas, only 51 percent consider it “more of a religious holiday”. Moreover, someone should tell the folks at Fox that only 7 percent said they wouldn’t celebrate it at all, which isn’t much of a phalanx of anti-Christmas warriors. In fact, 80 percent of non-Christians will celebrate Christmas. Of course, they’d be more likely to view it as a cultural holiday, but (and this is a crucial number) only two-thirds of Christians view Christmas as more of a religious holiday than a cultural observance.

It’s true that a level of political correctness forced schools, cities, and states to agree to the demands of religious tolerance. However, isn’t it also possible that those efforts pale in comparison to the corrosive effects of maniacal materialism and corporate salesmanship? Doesn’t Corporate Christmas benefit directly from downplaying the religious, ethical, and anti-materialist themes associated with Jesus, His life, and His gospel? The most frustrating part of this war on Christmas scrum is the fact that those who profess a motivation to preserve tradition and to counter persecution… whether real, perceived, or simply manufactured… are often the very people who profit from the corporate rot undermining the traditions they seem so motivated to preserve. Their annual war on Christmas special generates outrage and, therefore, ratings. Those ratings, in turn, help them sell commercial time to the corporations that, of course, inundate viewers with a barrage of holiday sales, gift ideas, and plastic doo-dads made by wage-slaves in Asia. Perhaps, it’s this underlying tension and hypocrisy… linking the man who gave the Sermon on the Mount with a frantic feeding frenzy with a troubling, often violent, consumer competition… that has more and more people divorcing religion and ethics from the holiday.

Really, as the ethical and moral sentiments of Christmas fade, the holiday evolved into little more than a corporate-consumer battleground. Americans dutifully march unto the breach, hoping to declare victory (my shopping is done!) after harried forays into the crucible of conspicuous consumption. Besides, corporations do their best to offend no one, appeal to everyone, and launder all that holiday spending through their globalised system of production into their bulging bank accounts. Out of the hands of the many and into the hands of the few. It’s a haunting vision of Christmases yet to come. However, that ghost can’t compare to the politically correct bogeyman at the centre of the phony war on Christmas. Sadly, those crusaders are uncomfortable with Pope Francisco’s timely admonitions against hoarding wealth, worshipping Mammon and (on the eve of the holiday) America’s unique contribution to Christian theology… the Prosperity Gospel. Like the lonely light that led the wise men to the manger in the first place, he’s trying to lead people back to Jesus… sadly, his less-than-flashy effort has little chance of winning ABC’s Great Christmas Light Fight.

20 December 2013

J P Sottile

The Guardian

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/20/war-on-christmas-material-culture

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Sunday, 21 December 2014

Here’s Why I Wish Certain People “Happy Holidays”

01 Galeries Lafayette Christmas Decoration

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If I know that a person is a self-appointed guardian of “Christmas orthodoxy”, I make a point of wishing them “Happy Holidays”… just to annoy them. However, overall, I probably say “Merry Christmas” more often than I say “Happy Holidays”. You see, only self-righteous quibblers on this matter deserve to be annoyed… people who buy into that Fox News nonsense about a “War on Christmas”. There are millions of Americans who aren’t Christians (or aren’t religious at all) who still celebrate Christmas and enjoy the season as much as the next person does. The majority of these people don’t mind it if you wish them “Merry Christmas”, and some of them probably extend the same greetings to other folks. The plain fact of the matter is that the Christmas season and the feelings of good will it generates belong to everyone who wants to embrace them, not just Christians. So, why do some people take offense at any holiday greeting that doesn’t include at least a mention of Christmas? Does a right to observe the occasion require a nod to religion? It’s my guess that the Christmas Nazis, as I call them, figure that they’d get bonus points in the hereafter for having been religiously persnickety about the holiday season.

20 December 2014

Pat Cunningham

Liberal Views  

http://www.taftmidwaydriller.com/article/20141220/BLOGS/312209983/-1/blogs01

Editor:

Either you respect your fellow-man or you don’t. If you want to hate me for advocating “Happy Holidays” in secular contexts, go right ahead. There’s nothing wrong with the secular per se… you’d think from listening to some fanatic “religious hobbyists” that everything’s got to be “religious” or else it’s evil. That’s horse hockey and utter rubbish. If you respect your fellow-man, you’ll use “Happy Holidays” in secular venues… for they may not be religious at all, but they still celebrate the Mid-Winter Holiday. I see nothing wrong in treating secularist people with respect… if you do, there’s something wrong in your POV… indeed, you aren’t following Our Lord Christ’s example… who had the greatest faith in Israel? The pagan centurion (that’s what He said)! Ponder that one…

BMD

Sunday, 10 August 2014

10 August 2014. Fox News Reports of Donetsk Siege False and Mendacious… Typical Republican Disregard of Reality

00 Fox News. 15.07.14

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Fox News is living up (or should I say, “down”) to its usual standards. It’s reporting that the Galician hillbilly thugs (one can’t call such undisciplined and violent trash soldiers) are surrounding Donetsk!! If that were so, how are foreign volunteers getting into the city? It’s completely untrue… it’s a typical Republican opium dream… it’s much like their substitution of footage from Athens for events supposedly happening in Moscow. Then again, Fox has such stellar lights as Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly on staff (both are loud warmongers who cowardly punked out and refused to serve in the forces themselves). In short, anyone who depends on Fox for the truth is brain-damaged and clueless. No decent person should attend to Fox’s obvious lies. No Orthodox Christian should ever watch or access their anti-Rodina propaganda. Their ideology is 180 degrees removed from anything taught by the Lord Christ; it’s evil and Anti-Christian to the bone (no, Pat Robertson, Glenn Beck, and Franklin Graham aren’t Christians, they’re American Radical Sectarians, something entirely else altogether). You can stand with Roger Ailes and Antonin Scalia (whose defence of “legal torture” is illegal and immoral under the Nürnberg standards) or you can stand with V A Chaplin and HH… I KNOW where I stand on that one…

This is why the US Republican Party is cruisin’ for a bruisin’… it refuses to face reality… when reality doesn’t please them, they simply make things up. After all, it has the likes of Rick Perry (the most supremely corrupt pol in the USA) in its ranks. Take heart… the neoliberal edifice erected by Slobberin’ Ronnie is tottering… it’s why they’re lying about events in the Ukraine. They don’t want you to know how deeply they are in the shit (and their clients are in even worse shape). I gotta walk away from this one… the Fox News zombies aren’t going to listen… they truly believe what these poseurs churn out.

Moral Communist Fairness or Amoral Republican Theft. that’s the choice on offer. Why do the Republicans hate Communism? That’s simple… under communism, they couldn’t steal what they do under crapitalism. They wouldn’t have their house in the “right” swanky suburb or their country club membership or their wetback nannies and gardeners! Poor babies! Choose well… I have. What’s that? Which side of the barricades am I on? I don’t think that I have to spell it out, do I? As I said, choose well, the fate of your immortal soul IS at stake…

BMD

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Can YOU Do Anything to Stop the Madness? Take a Look…

00 Lyudmila Tarasova. If Not Me and You, Then, Who. (English).1987

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00 Riots in Kiev. 06.02.14

THIS is why you should care… this is what the neofascists do every day in Kiev... and they’re getting nastier by the day…

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00 Crimea. 10.03.14

Stand with the free people of the Ukraine! NOT with fascist crapitalist pigs!

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00 Crisis. 01 Odessa. We're not giraffe meat for the EU! .3

Do YOU care? DO SOMETHING! These folks in Odessa are standing tall… and they’re facing down Svoboda thugs! We don’t have to worry about that, do we? Oh, the sign… “We’re not giraffe meat for the EU!”

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No new US war! Stop media lies about the Ukraine

March from CNN to Fox News

Friday, 14 March, 5 pm to 6 pm:

Rally at CNN

10 Columbus Circle (Broadway & 59th St)

6 pm:

March down Broadway to FOX News

49th St & Sixth Ave

Facebook event: facebook.com/events/226160010906938

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Here’s a link with more.

If you’re in town, do show up. After all, the Svoboda pigs showed up in Kiev (betcha that some of their American diaspora cousins may try a provocation… do be careful), didn’t they? It’s time to speak up… the folks in the Ukraine are standing tall, and they’re facing REAL repression. Do you want the Republicans to do the same here in the USA (McCain, Cruz, and Rubio just slobber over the Timoshenko junta and its “reforms”)? DO SOMETHING…

IF NOT ME AND YOU, THEN, WHO?

Who, indeed?

BMD

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